Inspired by Music: the ‘Sweetest Taboo’ Book Playlist

Not too long ago I was asked by an avid YA reader/blogger if I wrote ‘Sweetest Taboo’ with a playlist in mind and my response to her was, ‘I wish I were that clever!’ Actually, as I wrote the book songs that evoked many emotions as I transitioned from adolescence into early adulthood, songs that inspired me, songs that made me cry, and songs that perfectly captured my loves and heartaches with their lyrics. Because ‘Sweetest Taboo’ is about the life, love and heartache of a teenage girl and her coming of age, I thought it would be most appropriate to tip off the reader with a song title as chapter headings in order to foreshadow the contents of what was in store in the chapter. It made perfect sense to me, and because songs evoke such strong emotions, especially as we first discover music, love and freedom during our teenage years, I couldn’t help but title each chapter after a song that had some sort of impact on me during my teens.

Although most YA readers (aside from those of us in our 30’s!) are too young to appreciate the ‘Sweetest Taboo’ book playlist, I think many will discover music that they’re familiar with but never paid too much attention to. Perhaps older YA audiences will recognize every song, and even have fond memories of each, as these may bring back memories of a time long ago. Whatever the case is, I want to share the ‘Sweetest Taboo’ book playlist with all of my readers and encourage them to either discover these powerful songs, or simply re-discover or re-acquaint themselves with music that touched many people in my generation (those of us growing up in the 90’s).

For me personally, the song ‘Wind of Change’ by the Scorpions is one of my favorite from the playlist and has special meaning and evokes memories of an eventful time in world history. On November 9, 1989 at 10:45 pm, East German guards yielded to popular pressures and opened checkpoints along the Berlin Wall dividing East from West Germany, and allowed people through with little or no identity checks. As the Ossis (Easterners) swarmed through, they were greeted by Wessis (Westerners) waiting with flowers and champagne amid wild rejoicing. Soon afterward, a crowd of West Berliners jumped on top of the wall, and were soon joined by East German youngsters. They danced together to celebrate their new freedom and bit by bit, the Berlin Wall was demolished by the most amazing social and popular movement the world had witnessed! Okay, so I was more of a kid than a teen at that moment in time, but I remember the events being played over and over on television, and as I watched MTV music videos (yes, they actually had music videos back then!), I distinctly remember the Scorpions rendition of ‘Winds of Change’ with moving backgrop images of the wall coming down and Easterners celebrating with Westerners. It was a powerful image, it was an important time in history, and it was an influential song that evoked a great deal of emotion.

We all have those ‘special’ songs from our youth or teenage years that mean a great deal to us. Heck, many of us have dozens. For me, the ‘Sweetest Taboo’ Book playlist represents nearly two dozen of those songs that have left a lasting impact on me, and songs that I discovered when I was an adolescent and a very, very young adult.

I’d love to hear about songs that have impacted others in their teens, and how and why these songs have left a lasting impact.

Below, please find the ‘Sweetest Taboo’ Book Playlist…for your enjoyment!

1. Careless Whisper by George Michael (1984)

2. It’s Raining Men, Hallelujah! by Weather Girls (1984)

3. Is it a Crime? by Sade (1985)

4. Sowing the Seeds of Love by Tears for Fears (1989)

5. Sweetest Taboo by Sade (1985)

6. More than Words by Extreme (1991)

7. Friday, I’m in Love by The Cure (1992)

8. Winds of Change by The Scorpions (1990)

9. It Ain’t Over ’til It’s Over by Lenny Kravitz (1991)

10. No More “I Love You’s” by Annie Lennox (1995)

11. I’ll Stand by You by The Pretenders (1994)

12. Better Be Home Soon by Crowded House (1996)

13. Believe by Lenny Kravitz (1993)

14. Why Does My Heart Feel So Bad? by Moby (1999)

15. Losing My Religion by R.E.M. (1991)

16. Come What May featured in Moulin Rouge (2001)

17. No Ordinary Love by Sade (1992)

18. Sweet Surrender by Sarah McClachlan (1997)

19. Into Temptation by Crowded House (1988)

20. Just Like Heaven by The Cure (1987)

21. It’s the End of the World as We Know It by R.E.M. (1987)

22. With or Without You by U2 (1987)

23. Please, Please Tell Me Why? by Duran Duran (1993)

24. You Were Meant for Me by Jewel (1997)